The Bottle of Purell is Half Full

By Ann Bloomingdale
I started to feel it coming on shortly into the newscast. The unsettling tingling sensation, the slow churning in my stomach and the unmistakable feeling of fear starting to envelop me.
A foe I had dealt with before, and one many women experience during midlife, had returned. I was clearly experiencing a bout of anxiety, Apparently I wasn’t the only one as the news
streaming across my laptop showed shoppers bordering on panic, emptying the shelves of local stores. Hand sanitizer, cleaning products and water were just a few of the items I saw quickly being loaded into carts by people preparing for the uncertainty the current Coranavirus, aka COVID-19 virus, had created. I looked over at the half full tiny bottle of Purell I kept on my key-chain, and felt my anxiety start to rise.
I closed the laptop and started to practice the techniques I had learned to calm my anxiety. I reminded myself that adrenaline and cortisol were likely culprits in my feelings of distress. I have no doubt being perimenopausal with it’s hormonal changes wasn’t helping matters. As I started to be mindful of the breathing techniques I was practicing, I could feel the anxiety slowly subside. I was no stranger to anxiety in past years and knew that fighting or fearing the feelings would only make them worse. Fully aware that this virus had come to my community meant I would have to be prepared and informed. Being prone to anxiety, and a tendency to ruminate until my thoughts headed straight for that rabbit hole, could make this a bit of a challenge. No, I was not going to give in to panic with this situation. Midlife had presented me with a few stressors, such as concerns over health and finances, and I had successfully dealt with them. I was committed to confidently approaching this serious pandemic in the same manner. But how?
The first thing I did was decide to head over to credible sites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. I wanted to get informed from trusted, credible sources to educate myself on the facts of the virus, and how to develop a healthy level of concern to prepare accordingly. Getting updates from sites such as these once or twice daily keep me informed. I intentionally avoid excessively reading articles or watching newscasts regarding the virus, and that has drastically reduced my anxiety. I was determined not to let stress over this pandemic possibly make my immune system more vulnerable.
I learned about the important steps we can take such as proper hand washing and other preventive measures from the CDC site. When I find my thoughts getting on the “what if” train or start pondering catastrophic outcomes, as my anxiety seem to spark, I practice mindfulness to bring my focus back to the present. Focusing on the inhaling and exhaling of breathing is an awesome way to get centered. I also soothe my anxiety with prayer, music and losing myself in a good book or movie.
There are many ways to help alleviate anxiety you may be feeling over the current COVID-19 situation. These techniques include exercise, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, calling a friend and practicing mindfulness. Eating right and getting plenty of sleep are also important. Perhaps the best advice I got was from my sister, Peg, and that was to GET OUTDOORS! The vast expanse of the sky and the fresh air really helped me to see things from a more positive vantage than that of fear. Taking the experts’ advice to protect yourself and others, staying informed and preparing and planning for possible disruptions this virus could create, will go a long way in staying calm thru this crisis.
The bottom line is we are all in this together. Remind yourself you are capable, strong and have a special community of women in Your Second Season for additional support! Stay well and empowered! This too shall pass.